I'm a firm believer in stories, especially from books. If you have a baby, toddler or little kids, please be sure to read to them or tell them stories every single day--it is one of the greatest gifts you can give a developing mind. As numerous studies have shown, how often you read to your kids while they are young "has a direct causal effect on their schooling outcomes regardless of their family background and home environment". 1
I grew up reading greedily: I would spend all my free time reading and hiding from my little brothers. My twin sister and parents would know where to find me on warm days--I would nestle in the biggest crook of one of our apple trees and dangle my feet down amongst the leaves as I read, only coming down to swap out books or grab a snack. At night I would read under the covers with a flashlight until one of my parents firmly took it from me. In fact, I may have read too much, but books were a large part of my childhood and felt like a comforting friend any time I needed an escape from the real world. I believed my success in school (as well as my siblings' excellent grades) had been related to how often my mother read to us, and how many books were constantly at hand.
I read to my twins now as much as possible and at night tell them stories (and when I am too tired or lazy, I play my podcast bedtime stories for them). But I wanted to share some of my most favorite kids books with you, that you will enjoy reading hundreds of times and whose illustrations are mesmerizing. If you have gifts to give someone, think of a book first. Especially for a child, this is much better than any plastic knickknack.
This is my all-time favorite books for kids and I have been reading it to my girls since they were babies. Our copy has begun to fall apart and I've now moved it to their small baby box of most important items to save. If you don't have it yet, get it now. The illustrations are stunning:
This is our newest book, and an instant hit with my two (and it is an inspiring story):
Record your voice telling your child a story. This is an excellent tool for when someone else is putting them to bed, or for them to have as a special memory. Make a podcast, record it privately on your phone, or make a video. Taking a few minutes to do this will create such a special memory for your little one.
I'll give you a list of story prompts, but try to remember funny or sweet stories from your own childhood--these are the ones your little one will cherish the most.
Here are some story prompts off the top of my head, but get creative and work in your child's favorite characters, animals, people, or settings.
-A little girl is lonely, but then meets a new friend or animal
-fairies move into a child's house and he/she discovers a little door
-two friends want to win a talent show so they learn magic tricks
-a cat stows away in the car secretly on a family trip
-a dog starts talking and a little boy can understand him!
-a girl scuba dives and finds a mermaid castle underwater
-a couple find a baby in the woods and the baby is magical
-a little frog makes friends with various animals as he tries to find home
-a little girl becomes a doctor saving people
-a little boy becomes the best dancer in the world
-a cat goes into outer space as the first cat astronaut
-a kid makes the most amazing artwork and buys his favorite thing
-a Mom helps her kid makes perfect rainbow muffins
-a family goes to the beach and swims with dolphins
Make your own:
Help your little one make their own book, and no, this does not have to be complicated. Simply fold paper in half and staple or paper clip in a way that they have their own little booklet and help them write or draw their own story. My kids do this almost every day and we have stacks of imaginative sequences of drawings and their names on every page along with "mom" and "dad" as that's about all they know how to spell so far!
Save some of their best work--I'm assuming this will be really special especially when they are angsty teenagers trying to avoid me :)
Hopefully this post renews interest in reading to your child or reinforces what you already know or do. Remember, stories are magic, not just for children but adults, too!
Note: If you shop through any of my links, you pay the exact normal price but I will get a few cents from Amazon (win-win!)